24 National & Local Groups Call On Congress To Delay Health Insurance Tax

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Twenty-four national, state, and local organizations representing providers, community partners, and beneficiaries sent a letter to U.S. Congress calling for swift action to delay the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) for one year.

Over 20 percent of the $14.3 billion tax on health insurance falls on Medicare Advantage and Part D plans that could result in rising premiums and/or increased cost sharing paid by seniors and other beneficiaries covered by Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage under part D.

Though Congress previously suspended the tax for 2017, it is scheduled to be reinstated for 2018.  If Congress does not act to delay the HIT, premiums for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could increase by $22 billion nationwide in 2018 – an additional $245 per year for each enrollee.

“During a time where there is already so much uncertainty among seniors and disabled Americans about health care, Congress has a small window of opportunity to avoid harmful premium increases on beneficiaries. Higher premiums could put the high-quality, comprehensive health coverage Medicare Advantage provides financially out for reach for millions of Americans living on fixed incomes,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) President and CEO.

An August 2017 actuarial analysis from Oliver Wyman indicates that beyond 2018, premium increases for senior and disabled Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could grow to more than $300 in 2023.

“Forty percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees live on less than $20,000 per year. Medicare Advantage is an important source of coverage for low-income and racial/ethnic minority beneficiaries. For those who suffer from chronic conditions, barriers to critical primary care and disease management covered by Medicare Advantage could be devastating,” said Dr. Elena Rios, President of the National Hispanic Medical Association.

“With Medicare Advantage, providers can deliver the type of important preventive care and chronic care management once reserved for wealthy individuals at far lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs. As Medicare Advantage practitioners who treat low-income seniors across six states, we know firsthand that many simply will not be able to afford premium increases,” said Dr. Christopher Chen, CEO of ChenMed, a primary care provider for seniors headquartered in Florida.

In 2016, nearly 400 Democrats and Republicans in Congress voted to delay the impact of the HIT for 2017. As a result, the average Medicare Advantage monthly premium is four percent lower this year compared to 2016 when the tax was in effect. The letter calls on Congress to vote to delay the tax, before premiums for 2018 are finalized by the end of the year.

View full letter signed by the following organizations:

Area Agency on Aging Palm Beach / Treasure Coast, Inc. (Florida)
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness
Better Medicare Alliance
ChenMed (Florida)
Healthcare Leadership Council
Iora Health (Massachusetts)
Meals on Wheels America
National Association of Dental Plans
National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP)
National Hispanic Council on Aging
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Medical Association
National Minority Quality Forum
New Jersey State Nurses Association
Northwell Health (New York)
Nurse Practitioner Association New York State
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
Pittsburgh Business Group on Health
Prevea Health (Wisconsin)
SilverSneakers by Tivity (Tennessee)
SNP Alliance
Summa Health System (Ohio)
Teachers’ Retirement System of Kentucky
US Chamber of Commerce

Better Medicare Alliance is the leading coalition on Medicare Advantage.
Our mission is to build a healthy future by advocating for a strong Medicare Advantage. As a community of experts, we’re leading the way on health care through research, advocacy, and grassroots organization to create a path forward for innovative, modern health care on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities.
For more information, please visit www.bettermedicarealliance.org.

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SOURCE Better Medicare Alliance